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Book Review: Brenner and God by Wolf Haas

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Brenner and God by Wolf Haas is a detective novel taking place in Germany.Mr. Haas, a popular author in Germany, has recently had his first translated work published.

Simon Brenner retires from his stressful job as a police officer to take the job of a chauffeur. Brenner’s main duty is to drive a two-year-old girl between her mother, an abortion doctor in Vienna, and her father, a construction millionaire in Berlin.

One day, stopping to fill up the gas tank, Brenner finds the that the little tyke disappeared. With the mother’s occupation and the father’s long list of enemies, Brenner (who is of course one of the prime suspects) does not have shortage of leads or dead bodies standing in his way.

Brenner and God is an entertaining, yet wildly strange novel. The book is narrated by an unnamed person who has a wicked, dark and wry sense of humor–much like my own, which is why I thought I’d enjoy the book more.

The style of the novel is unwieldy and I never got used to it. I don’t know whether the style is that way because it’s meant to be that way or whether something is simply lost in translation–meaning the translation is fine, but the style simply doesn’t conform to the English reader. The narrator says things like “listen carefully,” “take note,” etc. and reminds himself of things retrospectively.

The main character of Brenner is written to wander around throughout the narrative, seemingly because it allows the narrator to make funny remarks, such as, “As a matter of principle, Frau Doctor Kressdorf had great sympathy for the men who came in for vasectomies. Because men tend to leave everything else up to women, the vasectomy candidates were practically minor saints to her.” Those remarks are funny, I’ll grant that, but without the narrator’s observations, points, and jokes, the novel is actually just four to five chapters long.

I enjoyed Brenner and God in parts. It is dark, with a sinister story and sense of humor. However, the shtick of the all-knowing, opinionated narrator doesn’t work for me throughout the novel. I did love the sarcastic humor but then again, I am a known wiseass.

  • 224 pages
  • Publisher: Melville International Crime;
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612191134

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